Toyota Auto Body n°328 co-pilot
HOW DID YOU BECOME A CROSS-COUNTRY CO-PILOT?
“Life is made of opportunities! In the 90’s I was working for my father (Toyota dealer in Le Pecq – France) when I learnt that my doctor was participating to the Dakar. One day we started to talk and suddenly he invited me to be his copilot for 24 Hours of Paris offroad race. I instantly accepted and entered few endurance races with him too. The next step was in 1997 when I participated to my very first Dakar with Jean-Pierre Cottret.”
WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD A GOOD CO-PILOT POSSESS?
“Definitely the experience. If you look at the profile of best cross-country rally copilots at the Dakar, most of them have more than 45 years-old and already participated to 15 to 20 Dakar. On top you must be well-organized, extremely reactive and have a good memory”.
WHAT ABOUT THE ROAD-BOOK, TELL US ABOUT IT?
“The road book is my Bible! The greater it is the less preparation job you have to do therefore the way it has been done it extremely important. Do not forget that we discover it the day before the stage only. The road book is a philosophy as well. You need to understand the messages the race organizer shares with you. For example, I enjoyed a lot in the past reading and interpreting road books done by René Metge. I knew perfectly his style and philosophy and could easily understand the direction he wanted us to go.”
AFTER 20 YEARS DO YOU STILL LOVE YOUR JOB?
“Of course yes! I can make a living with my passion. The part of my job I definitely like the most is meeting friends and new people. As long as I have fun and pleasure doing it I will continue doing that job.”
HOW DID YOU JOIN THE TOYOTA AUTO BODY TEAM?
“I knew the Japanese factory team after having collaborated with ARACO from 2000 to 2003. Then I did a quite long career with SMG team from 2004 to 2015. After Dakar 2015 Toyota Auto Body phoned me explaining they were looking for a copilot. After a few days after the deal was done and I joined that T2 category factory team as copilot of Christian LAVIEILLE from 2016 Dakar”.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST MEMORY AT DAKAR?
“At 2013 Dakar I was the copilot of French freestyle world champion: Guerlain CHICHERIT. During one stage we were fast and arrived at the same time in a canyon with Stéphane PETERHANSEL and Jean-Paul COTTRET. Both of us were looking for the right direction. Finally, Stéphane PETERHANSEL took the decision to exit the canyon and to follow a road. I recommended Guerlain to continue for few extra kilometers in the canyon. It was clearly a big risk when you know the experience of such driver like Stéphane PETERHANSEL. But after few minutes we realized we were on the right road and thanks to this decision we won the stage that day. Not too bad, right?”
WHAT IS YOUR WORST MEMORY AT DAKAR?
“At 2012 Dakar, I was racing with Carlos SOUSA. One day we got silted up in a dune for few minutes. I had to exit the car to remove some sand. But when I came back in the car I forgot to say Carlos I needed more time to fasten my seat belt. He restarted and we had a small crash few seconds later. Because of that I have been injured with a minor head trauma.”